One of the most discouraging facts about making homemade Biltong is the long drying time. It can take days for the Biltong to dry properly, which can be quite annoying if you want to enjoy the finished product immediately.
A biltong box with a low-wattage light bulb will take 4 to 7 days for the Biltong to dry.
Drying the traditional Biltong the South African way in the sun will take two to three weeks (!). Yikes!
But don’t worry. You can use clever techniques and strategies to speed up the biltong drying process.
In this blog post, you’ll learn how to dry Biltong faster and prepare it to eat.
Before we dive into the debauchery of cheating the sacred drying process of Biltong, a reminder of how “real” typical Biltong should be made according to the classic rules.
A reminder of how Biltong ought to be made: sun-drying
Sun-drying meat is the oldest and simplest traditional method. This involves cutting the meat into thin, flat strips, marinating them, seasoning them with coriander and apple cider vinegar, and then hanging them in the sun where they’re well-ventilated.
These strips of meat can also be dried on wire racks or trays in the sun. Before sun drying, the meat is dipped in a salt solution to prevent the growth of microorganisms.
However, this drying method in the sun has many disadvantages: Firstly, it’s very slow, and secondly, dust, dirt, wind, rain, inspections, impurities, etc., can enter the meat and deteriorate the quality of the meat when it’s exposed to the air.
You need to check often because the sun is unpredictable. Otherwise, the meat can be overcooked and dry, and hard.
With modern technologies, the meat is dried in a biltong box, and no one lets their expensive meat dry in the open sun.
Either it’s industrially produced in drying cabinets or in homemade biltong boxes… and all of them need time, for days, to wait for the delicious piece of meat.
Even though we advise against the following shorter drying methods (in the sense of “don’t try this at home, kids!”), we’ve been there, the cravings for more of that delicious biltong goodness.
For the record, we don’t advocate the following tricks and prefer the slow, traditional drying method in a biltong box as it best ensures your Biltong is flavorful and tender in a safe way.
Yet… sometimes, a man has to do what a man has to do.
1. Use a meat dehydrator
A meat dehydrator can be a great tool to make tasty Biltong faster: 10 to 20 hours or less than one day!
Using a food dehyIt allows you to speed up the drying time of your Biltong significantly while ensuring a decent quality outcome. With a dehydrator, you can also check the progress of your Biltong regularly without having to open the oven door and let the heat out.
This means you’ll get perfectly dried Biltong every time, even if it takes you a few tries to get it right. The dehydrator is also great for making biltong beef, dried fruit, and more. So it’s a good and versatile investment for your kitchen.
So if you’re looking for an easy way to make delicious snacks at home, it’s worth investing in a meat dehydrator.
2. Put the Biltong in an oven on low heat
The quickest way to outsmart the drying process when making Biltong at home is to dry it at low heat in the oven. This way, you get the desired result without waiting days or weeks for the Biltong to dry naturally.
Be careful when doing this, though, because too much heat can cause the Biltong to become tough and bitey. Watch the oven closely and adjust the temperature accordingly if needed.
Also, be careful not to leave the Biltong in the oven too long, and check it periodically until it reaches the desired consistency. With patience and care, you should be able to prepare delicious Biltong in no time!
3. Get some fans going
Fans are a great way to keep your home cool and comfortable during the hot summer. Not only can they circulate air, but they can also help biltong strips dry faster and become a delicious snack. Remember that fans are also used in most biltong boxes.
To get the most out of your fan, hang the biltong strips in an even layer so the air can move around them easily. This will ensure that each strip dries evenly and quickly, which is key to ensuring that each piece has an even texture and flavor.
With patience and careful planning, you can use a fan to make delicious biltong strips in no time.
3. Use a hairdryer to speed up drying
No oven? No food dehydrator and even no fans available either? Is it a crazy idea to dry your Biltong with your regular hair dryer? Yes. A desperate idea? Yeah, sure, but it works.
But desperate times may call for desperate measures. Therefore, a hair dryer to dry Biltong should only be used in emergencies or when no other option is available. You should keep the hair dryer at least 20-30 cm away from the Biltong and check it regularly.
Conclusion on how to quickly dry your Biltong
Drying Biltong faster is not recommended by cheating with the above methods, except for the food dehydrator. Instead, we recommend using a proper biltong box to make it home, as any of the above techniques can result in slightly lower quality biltong.
But we get it: What would life be without Biltong?